Analysis Paralysis: How to recognize and overcome it?

Did you ever experience a scenario where while taking a decision you decided to weigh all options and it led to overthinking and in the end the output being, a confused mind, and no decision?

If the answer is yes, then my friend, you alongside me suffer from analysis paralysis.

What is Analysis Paralysis?

In the most simple terms, Analysis Paralysis is the inability of making a decision.

Analysis Paralysis occurs when we over-analyze or overthink to predict the outcome and try to extract some certainty of the future(Trying to be Dr. Strange in real life.)

It is a never-ending cycle of “what if’s” with an endless N-ary tree being built in your mind with no leaves to be found.

For people who have a life beyond data structure, it basically means a decision tree being formed inside your mind with no end.

What happens when you get caught in analysis paralysis?

The problem comes when you postpone decisions in the hope that a perfect answer will come to you later.

Well, the answer is it won’t. You’re as likely to make a great call today as tomorrow.

“If fear of failure is the mother of procrastination, then perfectionism is the father.”

How to overcome analysis paralysis?

Learn to recognize it

Usually, decision-building is the process of listing down all the possibilities and then picking the best-suited option.

It typically takes somewhere between a few minutes to few days to make the decision depending upon the kind of decision it is.

Treat it like an addiction

According to Eckhart Tolle,
“You must think of analysis paralysis as an addiction.”

It’s a repetitive process we can’t seem to stop even though it's harmful to us in the long term.

Think of the worst outcome

Most often, The bad scenario of taking a decision is not as bad as we think.

Get as many facts as possible, but give yourself a deadline.

Gathering the facts and being prepared for future scenarios is good. But only when we know when to stop. Giving yourself a deadline helps to be finite and get us started.

If you are too scared to start without gathering all the facts, remember there is only so little you can see from where you are. It's only when you move ahead you see the vast world that was not within your range until now.

“Often doing nothing is worse than doing something.”

No decision is perfect

Take a moment, and reflect on your past self, think of the decisions that you took. Don’t think of the outcomes, just think of the decisions you took. And now, answer this -
Were those decisions the final one? Did you not while going through the course of a previously made decision make a new decision due to change in the now present(then, future).

After this exercise, you will realize that very few decisions are final.

Hence, treat your decisions as MVP. Also, try to divide them and make them small. While it's important to think of the long term vision while taking a decision, try to divide them as it’s easy to make a small move that affects a smaller chunk of your life and then, try to build on it based on the parameters you measure to conclude whether the decision was a good or a bad one.

“You don’t have to live with a decision forever. If you make a mistake, you can correct it later”-

David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried

Remember and focus on this fact, Decision is not the end of the road, it's rather the beginning. When you decide and go with a choice, what you begin is a journey to build a concrete plan and work diligently on it for further progress.

In the end, you might feel an alternative option would have yielded you a better result, but if you have traveled the path from the decision you made towards progress sincerely, then who are you today is much more capable of making better decisions in the future.

“Make decisions now, work on it and make better decisions tomorrow.”

How do you tackle analysis paralysis?

For me, it was through reading certain books which explained the importance of not being scared of making decisions and also, effective ways to begin the journey of making decisions quickly. It's a long road ahead for me, but I am glad I am on it.

Here are the books that made me more self-aware:

  1. ReWork: Change the Way You Work Forever

2. Highly Productive Remote Work: A Pragmatic Guide

Let me know, your experiences of recognizing and tackling analysis paralysis.

That’s all from my side, For any further discussions, please feel free to reach out to me at divyabiyani26@gmail.com or connect on LinkedIn.

Software Developer by profession, with a passion of sharing knowledge.